International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages
With Emphasis on Tone Languages

Beijing, China
March 28-31, 2004

Perceptual Analysis of the Six Contrastive Tones in Cantonese

Po-Yee Li

Phonetics Lab, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, City University of Hong Kong

The experiment here is a perceptual study of the six contrastive tones in Cantonese. The monosyllable [si] was synthesized, and a large number of closely spaced Fo contours were applied to it. The identification tests were separated into three parts. In Part I of the tests, subjects were asked to identify each synthetic stimulus as a Cantonese word with a high-high, mid-high, or mid-low tone. In Part II of the tests, subjects were asked to identify each synthetic stimulus as a Cantonese word with a mid-low, low-rising or high-rising tone. In Part III of the tests, subjects were asked to identify each synthetic stimulus as a Cantonese word with a mid-low or low-low tone. The influence of Fo on the perception of Cantonese words was investigated and the categorical boundaries for the six contrastive tones were established. The identification results may prove Chao's and Vance's descriptions of the level tones are more accurate than Hashimoto's description.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Li, Po-Yee (2004): "Perceptual analysis of the six contrastive tones in Cantonese", In TAL-2004, 119-122.